Israel’s refusal to allow Gaza to use a scanner machine donated by Netherlands donated to screen exports from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank will be on the agenda at a meeting Sunday night between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Rutte had been scheduled to attend a festive dedication of the X-ray machine at the Kerem Shalom crossing during his visit. Speaking before Israeli and Palestinian peace activists on Sunday, the Dutch prime minister expressed grave disappointment at Usrael’s refusal to let the X-ray machine be used. “I don’t understand this decision,” Rutte said.
Dan Yakobson, a member of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum who attended the meeting with Rutte, said the Dutch premier had sounded surprised and even mortified by the way the issue of the scanner had been handled.
He said that under the circumstances, Rutte had wondered at the security concern: “After all, the X-ray machine was donated by the Netherlands and placed at the Kerem Shalom crossing precisely because of Israeli security concerns,” Yakobson quoted Rutte as saying. “I have no idea what is behind this decision, and I will ask Netanyahu about it during our meeting this evening.”
Yakobson said the Dutch prime minister asked the peace activists if they thought Netanyahu had changed his mind on the Palestinian issue and if he genuinely wanted to make peace. They didn’t know, the participants told him, according to Yakobson. However, they said, the fact that Israel accepted the European Union stipulation that no Horizon 2020 research funding would go to Israeli research enterprises connected with territories beyond the 1967 borders shows that the government favors ties with Europe over the settlements.
“We told him that the conduct regarding the scientific cooperation agreement showed that with internal Israeli assertiveness and enough international assertiveness, things can move,” Yakobson said. “We recommended stepping up international involvement on the Israeli-Palestinian matter and even considering the model the world powers used in the deal with Iran in Geneva and applying it to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”